ezCater Helps Share Food Program Share the Food Love With Its Employees
- 3 Min Read
Philadelphia-based hunger-relief organization Share Food Program helps feed and nurture hundreds of thousands of people with food and love, and it takes some special people to keep things running. That’s why when the pandemic hit, Share Food wanted to do something special to thank its employees.
Then began offering a new benefit: “Take Out Tuesdays” powered by ezCater – and to this day, it’s still going strong.
From the very start, Share Food Program also made the decision to order almost exclusively from BIPOC caterers and restaurants to help support the hardest hit small businesses, and show love to the diverse community.
We spoke with executive director Gelorge Matysik about his experience using ezCater, why Share Food Program has decided to continue this benefit, and why coming together around food is so important to them.
How Share Food Program Shares Love Through Food
Share Food Program sources and distributes food to folks in need of food assistance throughout the Greater Philadelphia area, explains Matysik, including 300,000 school kids served through the National School Lunch program.
Powering this operation is a staff of about 70 people and about 10,000 volunteers (over the course of the year), who support the mission every day. “We also have one of the largest home delivery programs in the country, where we do home deliveries for seniors who get food assistance from us,” adds Matysik.
When the pandemic hit and devastated people’s livelihoods, food insecurity became even more dire. Over time, the pandemic-related food need subsided, but it began to tick back up as food costs increased. “We have more people coming to us in need of food assistance than before,” says Matysik.
With more demand on its employees, Matysik knows how important it is that Share Food Program has found ways to thank and support their hard work – not just with a living wage, but also meaningful benefits and perks like Take Out Tuesday.
Small gestures can go a long way, but are typically rare among nonprofit organizations with stretched budgets. Matysik adds, “When I hear our staff talking to other people about our benefits package, Take Out Tuesday always comes up.”
The Evolution of Take Out Tuesday
At the very start of the pandemic in March 2020, the idea for Take Out Tuesday began as a way to say thank you to the workers who, because of the nature of their work, couldn’t simply work from home. So Matysik personally began buying lunch for the people who showed up each Tuesday.
After a couple of months, he turned to Share Food Program’s board members to ask if they could personally contribute to continue providing weekly lunches, and they agreed. “That has turned into three years of our Board actually supplying the funding for us to do Take Out Tuesday every Tuesday,” he says.
Today, with some members of the team following a hybrid schedule, Tuesday is the one day that everyone is on site, making it the perfect day to supply lunch for everyone. “We always have this one big day filled with collaboration, and it just allows us to come together around the meal, which is really what our organization is founded on,” says Matysik.
How They Combine Fun With the Experience of Trying New Cuisines
Even as a busy leader, Matysik has continued to put in the food orders himself using ezCater because it’s something he loves to do. “It’s one of my favorite projects that I should probably outsource, but I’m like, ‘No. I’m going to do this. This is my fun project,’” he says. And so Matysik sits down to pick what the team will enjoy for lunch each and every week.
One of the reasons he enjoys doing this is because the platform takes care of all the backend paperwork, like handling the tax exemption forms and keeping track of receipts. “Everything is in there and it’s just so easy,” he says.
But what he likes most is the opportunity to introduce cuisines that people have never tried before, while supporting the diverse community of restaurants and caterers in Philly.
“I go around the office afterwards and have everybody give me their ratings. The top favorites are Caribbean Feast, which is Jamaican food and Athena, which offers Indian catering,” says Matysik.
The Ability to Meet Dietary and Cultural Needs of a Diverse Team
He also loves how ezCater also makes it simple to find vendors that offer customized food options to accommodate people’s dietary and religious food preferences, from vegetarian to kosher, he says. For example, Matysik was able to find a local pizza place that keeps halal by offering a beef pepperoni topping. He also appreciates being able to find restaurants that offer individually packaged meals, which helps maintain health and safety standards.
Over the course of a month, Matysik estimates that using ezCater saves several hours versus having to search for places, call in orders and deal with the tax paperwork manually.
Food: The Great Uniter
“Along with things like the arts and sports, food is one of those great uniters of people,” says Matysik. “It really does give such a great opportunity for people to come together.” And when he chooses to order cultural foods, it allows some staff members to enjoy tastes of home, while introducing new flavors to others.
“We’re a food organization in our heart,” says Matysik. “Food is our thing and so we like being able to feed ourselves, too, and to have this communal experience.”
Want to bring catering to your workplace?
With ezCater, you can order tray style catering or individually-packaged meals, depending on what makes the most sense for your business. Our professional-grade customer service and delivery means your meals will arrive on-time, as ordered, and we have 24/7 humans to help with any assistance after your order is placed online.